A Collaborative Future

Transforming education with multi-touch, multi-person technology.

GUEST COLUMN | by Jonathan Priestley

CREDIT MultiTactionRecent studies from Harvard and Michigan State University have shown that group activities empower individuals to perform better in a variety of tasks compared to working independently. In a group setting new processes, ideas, solutions and conclusions are easily developed and increased cognition amongst students is evident. The future of education involves collaborative learning, and this means moving beyond the integration of the latest tech gadgets.

Unlike traditional classroom technologies, interactive touch technology gives students the chance to learn by seeing, doing and implementing.

Technologies such as tablets, projectors and whiteboards have evolved learning, but they also limit the number of users at a given time and prohibit groups of students from collaborating when using these devices. In order to advance collaborative and group learning environments, educational institutions need to make the incorporation of technology that supports group interaction a top priority. Schools need to look to technology solutions that facilitate unlimited users to prompt social exchange and allow the seamless contribution of ideas. Interactive technology in the form of large multi-touch displays offers a viable solution as learning, interacting and collaborating is transformed and students are placed at the forefront of a dynamic experience.

Classroom Interaction and Group Learning

Students today are part of the Touch Generation. Not only do these student want to play with touch devices, they want to learn with them as well. Unlike traditional classroom technologies, interactive touch technology gives students the chance to learn by seeing, doing and implementing. It immerses students into activities and allows educators to bring lessons to life. Students are encouraged to explore news way of learning by utilizing a strategic approach to lessons.

Interactive touch technology also caters to the learning styles of students and adapts to their needs. Many educational institutions have turned to touch technology to incorporate gamification in learning especially since 60 percent of learners believe that friendly competitions motivate them. Technologies that don’t support this level of interaction can actually hinder engagement. If students are not engaged with the content or topic, they don’t feel the need to pay attention in class and can easily miss important information. Collaboration on the other hand intensifies the information students retain and sparks creativity. By using touch technology, there is increased group cohesion which has a positive impact on group performance as well.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

According to a College Explorer study from re:fuel, 85 percent of the college student population own a laptop and students are spending an increasing amount of time on these personal devices since they are permitted to use them in the classroom. As such, there is an increasing need to integrate technologies that can support these types of portable smart devices. For instance, touch technology that can easily communicate with personal devices supports the BYOD trend. Students can easily share information for an individual project, work with other group members on a project, or create a presentation that visually draws students into the content.

Millennials are particularly interested in the BYOD trend as their personal devices are second nature to them. A Back-to-School Technology Usage survey by AMD found that 67 percent of students say one of their biggest fears is having their technology stop working. As universities seek to effectively close the gap and encourage the use of interactive technology in the classroom, the ability to easily sync and collaborate on personal devices is highly significant for the Millennial demographic. In fact, college students own up to seven tech devices so a smooth integration from device to device is critical to prevent loss of information.

The future of higher education needs to boost engagement amongst students and encourage collaboration within the classroom setting beyond collaborative software alone. Interactive touch hardware will play an integral role in the success and growth of students as learning is transformed like never before. With the right kinds of touch technology, professors and instructors can ensure that their lesson plans are being fully comprehended by students and students on the other hard can be actively involved in their learning and cooperate with their classmates as well.

Jonathan Priestley works for MultiTaction, a leading developer of interactive display systems. Write to: info@multitaction.com

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